Authors: Toye Lawson Brown


Taylor wiggled from the jacket and spread it across her lap.
Her ample breasts were firm and shapely and filled the top part of the dress
nicely.  The pearl necklace she wore stopped at the scooped neckline of the
dress that didn’t give any cleavage.

“Much better,” she said wiggling her shoulders.  “Do you
have any questions for me?”

His probing stare returned. “Yes, I do but my questions may
be deemed inappropriate and I probably should not ask.”

“You can ask me anything within reason.”

“Okay.  I will ask then.  Is there a Mr. James in the

Taylor searched his fingers and did not see a wedding ring,
which meant nothing since men removed them when convenient. She moistened her
lips. “Yes there is.”

His grin lopped to one side meaning she’d made a score.  “He
is my father,” she said releasing a playful smile.  “I am not married or currently
in a relationship.  I have a busy life with no room for socializing at the
moment.  Are you married with children?”

He shook his head. “I have never been married and I have no
children, either.”

“We have one thing in common,” she said dangling her leg
over her knee.  His deep-throaty laugh broke the pause in the conversation.
“Why are you laughing?”

“You didn’t just want to know if there was a wife lurking in
my house but if there were kids.  Are you against a single man having

The overheated office rapidly grew to swelter as the palms
of her hands dampened. “I honestly did not mean for my response to be
discriminating.   There is nothing wrong with a single man with children as
long as he is taking care of business.  Personally, I would not want to deal
with the drama of the other woman, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with
being a single father.”

He rocked back and forth in the chair. “Nice recovery, Ms.

“Taylor.  I don’t stand on formality with my colleagues.”

“Taylor, it is hot as an inferno in this office and a
beautiful day outside.  Would you like to continue our conversation over
dinner?  I suddenly have a taste for something roasted over an open fire.”

Her mouth curled into a grin. “I will accept your invitation
but under one condition.”

“What condition would that be?”

“I get to choose the restaurant and pay for dinner,” she
said standing up draping her jacket over her arm.

“I can’t do that.  A true gentleman never lets a lady pay
for a date.”

She tilted her chin upward. “Well, seeing this is not a date
but a business dinner.  I will pay and write it off as an expense, so make sure
you have plenty of work-related questions to ask me.”

He stood up taking his suit coat from the chair and slung it
over his shoulder.  “I like how you think, Taylor.  Despues de usted bella
dama,” he recited in Spanish allowing her walk ahead of him.

Exiting his office, they walked together through the
corridor that led to the external elevators.  Dillon descended the internal
stairwell and saw them.  His face flushed with heat when he noticed where
Mario’s hand rested on Taylor’s body as he ushered her through the door.  He
was bold to touch Taylor in such a commanding way.  His hand did not belong on
the small of her back, and he had just met her.

Anderson exited the men’s room adjacent to where Dillon was
standing.  Wiping his hands on a paper towel, he asked.  “Dillon, were you able
to reach with your fiancée to meet us for dinner and celebrate?”

Dillon rolled his eyes as the heavy door slammed shut. 
Sighing, he tried to muster a smile. “Yes, Anderson, I did reach her.  She will
meet us at the restaurant.”

Anderson put his arm around Dillon’s shoulder. “Let’s go. 
We’ll have a few drinks before the ladies arrive switching us to tea for the
remainder of the night.”

“Good. I could definitely use a couple of stiff drinks about

Chapter 2

Four Weeks Later

The high heels of Taylor’s shoes clicked as she ran
across the wet pavement of the parking lot dodging heavy raindrops.  She and
Mario had been together almost every night after work since he’d started four
weeks ago.  Tonight she was cooking dinner for the two of them.

Taking a shopping cart from the rack, she hurried inside
the grocery store to get the ingredients for Chicken Alfredo.  She hurried
through the store throwing items in the cart.  It was after 6:00pm when she
left work, and she’d invited him over at 9:00pm for a late dinner.

She lingered in the imported wine section mulling what to
get.  Her choice of drink was Jack Daniels and Coke, and he drank imported
tequilas.  Neither of those went with her menu.  She picked a bottle of
chardonnay and put it in the cart. Reaching for a second, she shrugged her
I should get more than one
the night could be long

At the bakery, she reached for a fresh loaf of homemade
garlic bread and changed her mind. 

Hmm, garlic on a date….nah
.  She put it back and
got a rustic loaf of Italian bread instead.

Heading to the checkout, she passed an aisle that caught
her attention.  Looking around no one was behind her as she looked at the
different styles and options for condoms.  Leave it to the grocery store to put
condoms in the same aisle as baby and feminine products. A subconscious
reminder as what an impulsive night of passion could cause.

 She and Mario had not had sex or even approached the
subject but with two bottles of wine, anything was possible.  A
philosophy crossed her mind.  She was not ready to be anyone’s

Taking a box of standard size instead of being presumptuous
and grabbing the magnums, she tossed them in the cart and headed for the
self-check register.  The registers manned by cashiers had shorter lines but
the condoms, though it showed responsibility; it embarrassed her somewhat.

Taylor paid for the grocery, piled the bags in the back
of her Lexus, and headed home to cook.  A smile crossed her face as she
daydreamed about Mario.  He was brilliant, and she loved watching his mind work
legal strategies.  Besides that, he was easy to get along with.  She and Dillon
would sometimes butt heads when it came to decisions causing a third-party to
come in and settle the dispute.  With Mario, he would point the several reasons
why a particular strategy would or would not work and, together they would
reach a solution.

Then there were the other benefits of working with him. 
He smelled so damn good.  His favorite cologne was Burberry Touch, and it made
her want to touch him often.  She would find herself touching his arms or
shoulder or brushing against him.  She didn’t know if that was the marketing
idea behind the cologne, but it definitely worked.

She cracked the window to cool her libido and turned up
the radio.  Her favorite song Adore by Prince was playing and getting her in
the mood for a wonderful night with Mario Infante.


Mario stood in the walk-in closet deciding on what to
wear.  Dining at Taylor’s house would not require him to wear a suit but to be
casual.  He chose a pair of black dress trousers and a wide pinstriped black
and white polo shirt.

Laying the clothes on the bed, he went to the dresser and
got socks and underwear, throwing them on the bed.   Checking his body over, he
flexed letting his broad muscles expand.

He kept fit by exercising and eating right.  On special
occasions, he would treat himself to a hearty meal but not often.  He was forty
and every ounce he gained would show up somewhere on his body if he didn’t keep
fit.  Checking the soft black patch of hair centering his chest, he looked for
any gray; there was none.  There were no sprinkles of gray peppering his head

He harbored good genes.  His parents were alive, healthy,
and both were over the age of seventy.  His two brothers and three sisters were
also healthy and lived productive lives in Miami.  Besides them, he had a host
of relatives in Puerto Rico that he called often and visited when he could. 
He’d planned to ask Taylor to join him on his next visit to meet his parents. 
He had a feeling Taylor would be the last stop in his journey for love.  She
fits well with him, and he was smitten with her.

He got his attention back on track.  Splashing a little
Burberry between the palms of his hands, he rubbed his hands around his neck,
down his chest, then across his flat stomach to give off a light scent of the
cologne.  Removing the towel from around his waist, life sprang forth.

He groaned shaking his head.  His sex life has been
non-existent for months.  The women he’d been meeting were only after one
thing—his money.  He was wealthy and had the possessions to prove it.  He owned
his three-bedroom split-level home, drove an expensive car, and always dressed
to impress.  He didn’t think twice when he treated women to expensive dinners
or purchased nice gifts for birthdays or other special occasions, but he
refused to be a sugar daddy for sex.  He chose he would wait for the right
woman to come along before he was caught in a situation with his pants down.

Mario searched for something depressing to deflate the
attention of his soldier; he couldn’t think of anything because Taylor was the
only thing on his mind.  She had been running through his mind since getting
home from work. 
Get it together, or it will be a long night

He went to the bed getting the black boxer briefs pulling
them over his athletic hips snapping the waistband.  Next, he put on the silk
Armani socks.   Pulling up the trousers, he checked for wrinkles before putting
on the polo.  In the closet, he selected a pair of Gucci leather loafers, a
diamond stud earring for his left ear, and his newest purchase, the Louis
Vuitton Tambour Chronograph Voyagez II Watch.

Checking his image in the full-length mirror, he smoothed
his hair with his hands. Popping his collar, he smiled.  “Looking good, baby,”
he said taking his wallet off the dresser and exiting the bedroom.

Whistling an unnamed tune, he reached the front door; a
rumbling of thunder shook the foundation of the house.  “Ah, a replenishing
rain,” he said grabbing an umbrella from the stand next to the door.  No
thunderstorm was going to ruin his evening with Taylor James.


Taylor dressed the dining room table with tall red
candles, fresh red roses, and red plates with silver chargers underneath.  She
wasn’t Martha Stewart but the table, to her, looked magazine perfect.  The
lights fluttered on and off as she returned to the kitchen to check on the
food.  “Darn it, the power better not go off now,” she fumed.

Turning down the oven so the chicken wouldn’t burn she
prepared a light appetizer of olives, grapes, aged cheeses, and crackers.  She
didn’t want to rush into dinner once Mario arrived.  Her idea was to have a
glass of wine and talk to get to know him better.  The sexual attraction was
heavy between them, and conversation had to be diverted other mundane topics to
ease it.

She took the platter to the living room, and returned to
get the wine from the fridge.  Placing it on a sterling tray with two Riedel
white wine glasses, she took that to the living room also.  She didn’t drink
wine often, but when she did, she preferred white to red.  She credited wine tastings
at Bella’s on her knowledge of choosing good wines and the correct glasses to
drink them from.

Folding her arms, she smiled admiring her spread. Not
only was it sexy mature food, but romantic and elegant. “Dang, not bad from a
woman that grew up thinking cheese from clear plastic wrappers was fancy.” 

The lights fluttered again. “Oh, come on!”  She opened a
china cabinet door, removing several sized decorative candles and placed them
around the living room and dining room in case the power went out during
dinner.  Ditching the wrappers in the garbage, she checked the food once more;
the aroma made her stomach growl.   She wasn’t a gourmet cook like her sister
Sabrina, but held her own when it came to simple meals.

The doorbell rang getting her attention.  Unable to
remove the smile from her face, she wanted to look sophisticated rather than
giddy when she opened the door.  Passing the mirror hanging on the wall in the
hall, she had to admit she looked gorgeous.  The snug-fitting halter, midnight
blue dress, hugged her in all the right places.  The matching strappy stilettos
gave her legs shape.  The silver dangling earrings hanging from her ears and
her hair pulled in a tight chignon, made her look stylish, and poised.

Calming her nerves, she opened the door. It was pouring
rain, but she didn’t care.  She focused on the man standing before her.  He was
tall, handsome and there to see her.  She let out a breath, only realizing
she’d been holding it in when she became lightheaded.  “Mario, come in please.”

He stepped in the small foyer waiting for her to close
the door.  “Taylor, you look gorgeous, but then again, I wouldn’t expect you to
look any other way,” he said with a crooked grin.

Parting her glossy lips, she said, “Thank you.” 
Slithering her hand down his arm, she raised her eyebrow flirtatiously. “And,
you’re looking rather handsome yourself.”  The after-work Mario was quiet
appealing.  His attire was appropriate for the casual dinner.  Taylor loved how
the polo shirt wasn’t too loose or too tight. It contoured to his torso
outlining his well-developed abs, flat stomach, and trim waistline.

Mario removed a bouquet of flowers from behind his back. 
”These are for you.”

She took a whiff of the colorful floral arrangement.  The
scent of the flowers smelled virtually as good as the Burberry cologne he
wore.  “The flowers are beautiful, how thoughtful of you to bring me flowers. 
Dinner will be ready shortly.  Until then, I have a nice chardonnay and hors
d'oeuvre waiting for you,” she said leading him to the living room.

He took the wine bottle from the tray and approved the
purchase.  “May I?” He asked.

She nodded. “Please do.”

He took the corkscrew from the tray and watched Taylor
sit on the sofa crossing her legs.  The legs he wanted so badly to trace his
tongue starting from the base of her ankle to end at her hip.  Removing the
gold seal covering the cork, he inserted the corkscrew opening the wine with

Pouring wine into each glass, he replaced the bottle on
the tray handing her a glass.  “Here you go.  Shall we make a toast?”

Taylor held the glass by the stem waiting for him to sit
next to her. “Should we toast to our health and friendship?”

Mario smiled repeating but adding an edit to what she
said. “We can toast to our health, and hopefully more than just friendship.” 
He took a sip. “This is smooth.  You have exquisite taste in wine considering
your drink of choice is Jack and Coke.”

Taylor’s laugh was relevant to the airs she was putting
on. Although she liked the wine, she preferred the hard stuff. “I’m batting two
for two.  Now if dinner garners any compliments, I will deem this night a

“I’m sure dinner will be as delicious as the hands that
prepared it,” he said looking over the rim of the glass at her as he drank more
of the wine.

After a breathless minute of staring into his eyes,
Taylor dropped her gaze. “You really have to stop saying things like that.  It
could get you everywhere.”  She blushed. “Did I just say that after one sip of

His lopsided grin widened. With a wiggle of his brows, he
said, “You have me curious what a whole glass of wine will get me.”

She leaned forward into him.  “Mr. Infante, I never let
alcohol guide me to spontaneity.  If you are curious about me, you will have to
work the old fashion way to learn everything about me.”

His eyes traveled to the area of her ample cleavage
spilling from the top of her dress.  If she leaned down a tad further, he would
be able to see the sexy valley between her breasts.  Blinking he shook his
head.  “You’re killing me, Taylor,” he muttered, grabbing the throw pillow next
to him to cover his midsection on the sly.

Taylor pretended not to notice his swift but concealing
move.  Licking her lips, she moved her head close to his face and said, “I’d
better check on dinner.  Keep my seat warm for me?”

He leaned back on the sofa resting his arms across the
back cushions.  The vision of her supple backside caused his groin to clench
almost painfully upon watching the gentle sway of her hips. The beautiful
movement of her body beckoned him, begging him to take her.  Even if she didn’t
know that’s what her body said, the message was loud and clear to him.   Taylor
James awakened every membrane in his body.  He had to have this intriguing
woman in his life, and soon.


Dillon’s head bounced to the beat of the music playing on
the radio and his fingers tapped on the steering wheel.  Taylor’s favorite song
by Prince was playing—what a coincidence.  He was on his way to her house.  He
hadn’t seen his best friend in weeks, and since he was in the area, he wanted
to drop by for a visit.

He looked at the clock it was almost 9:15pm. If Taylor
wasn’t busy tonight, maybe, she would agree to see a movie or go to dinner.  He
pulled to the stop sign at the end of her street.  His mouth watered as the
ends of his lips curled into a grin.

He did this every time he thought of Taylor.  The woman
had an effect on him no other woman, including Kelly, could achieve.  Kelly
used to give him moderate arousal but since Taylor returned to town years ago,
Kelly was a figment to him these days.  And the sooner he could get rid of her,
the sooner he could go to work on Taylor.

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